Struthers Memorial Church and the focus on an elite


We have had the chance over many years to observe the way Struthers Memorial church functions and our observation is that there are several defined groups in place within the church.


These groups are never named or acknowledged explicitly but we believe if you have been involved in SMC for any length of time they may be familiar to you.


Leadership Positions




"The gang of 3" senior leaders

the 3 who decide who gets the platform on a Saturday night and who pretty well exclusively give themselves the platform of the Saturday night joint meeting & mostly at camps.




The close associates of these 3 and their closest friends

one or two of whom have leadership in  the other churches, some of whom are in their families, some of whom are their closest friends, and some of their younger proteges.




The leaders of the other churches who are not part of the core team or their friends, but who lead churches in central Scotland

They are never asked to preach the main sermon on a Saturday night or at camps. They are leaders of chuches but apparently have no real leadership role in the SMC movement. They would (we think) be on the church executive.




The other leaders of the very small number of SMC churches further away who cannot in any practical way be regularly present on a Saturday






Members and Atendees Positions in each church






The leaders' close friends

who might be asked to preach, lead meetings or singing, and pray with people on occasion.




Those who used to be in group 5 but are no longer asked to do aything much by their leader

Some of these people are distressed at no longer being part of the group which is more important to the life of the church and some are in despair, feeling that perhaps they have failed God in some way. They would love someone to explain to them what they did wrong to no longer have a part in the work of God but are afraid if they ask for this, and by implication question the leaders' actions in regard to them, the door might close forever.




The still hopeful

who are never asked to do much except testify occasionally but are confident that one day, if they wait long enough, they will be trusted and valued enough to contribute more in a  public way. Their church leader can usually truthfully claim that they have never given them any reason to believe this.




The no longer hopeful

who do not expect anything to change in their lives but attend and participate in meetings because they believe that is probably a good thing.




The not too bothered

There for various reasons – they have links to people in the church but don't listen too carefully and don't let the teaching interfere with their lives too much.




A few people who attend in an almost institutionalised way

They have been around for years but barely participate or communicate with people.






What many perhaps do not realise is that for all the people in groups 6 – 10, the leaders will have decided, possibly some considerable time ago, whether they are "drawn to you" or "feel anything for you". This is a unique thing as practised by the SMC leadership.


As we understand it - the leaders get a “spiritual feeling” about you and your attitude.

They use this to decide whether they are going to take any interest in your spiritual life and help you to develop it further; or whether they will just observe you from afar and watch you sink or swim.


When you sink – as most people who feel a pastor does not care about them generally do - the leaders tell their close friends and sometimes announce to the church (not usually naming the people but ensuring they can easily be identified) that those who left were "not in at the heart of what is happening in the church". This is a way of explaining that it is okay that they have left and they were not really the kind of people the leaders want anyway.


We believe this is a conscious practice by the leadership and not just a theoretical suggestion. A  former member has shared with us their experiences and told the story of how they asked one of the current senior SMC leaders, some years ago, why they prayed week after week with 2 or 3 of the young people in the congregation but seldom or never with all of the others. Many of these others attended just as often and were just as enthusiastic. The reply given was that the leader "did not feel drawn" to those other young people. There was no indication what these young people could do to get more of the leaders' time, attention or affection and there was no sense that the leader thought there was anything wrong whatsoever with what they were saying and doing. They made no commitment to make more effort to help or coach the young people they were not "drawn to". All these of course eventually left and the leader no doubt felt their attitude was vindicated. Some of those she had prayed with regularly also left and this was put down to their lack of deep commitment.


Clear message: leader always right whatever the outcome – people always wrong.


We believe the job of a biblical pastor should be to look after all those God has placed in their congregation for as long as they choose to be there. The job is to have a plan to maximise for each of them their chances of finding a deep and long term relationship with God, supporting them until they can operate independently as they become mature and capable of discipling others themselves. The only time extra and particular attention might need to be given to some is the case given in Luke 15:3-5:

Then Jesus told them this parable: "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders


The true shepherd is charged to give extra diligence to seeking the one weak sheep that was lost – even to the point of leaving the healthy 99 to make time for this. Do SMC leaders do this, or do they maximise time with their favourites at the expense of the more needy? Jesus indicates that it is the attitude to the weakest among the body that is the basis on which we will be judged.


However appalling the approach to the young people by the SMC leader as described above may seem – and we do think it is fully and completely appalling – let us deal with the situation we have in front of us. If this is how it works in SMC, we would suggest that there is an opportunity for honesty.



We would ask the SMC leadership to speak individually to those in their congregations and tell them one of the following 2 things:


1            I believe God has placed you in my congregation for a reason and I want you to get all the help I can give you to develop your life in Him. We should meet together and seek to plan for the deepening of your spiritual life, identify and make space in this church to develop your ministries and gifts and seek to understand what your needs of me as your Pastor are, to help you find fulfilment for all your human need at every level in Christ.

(The last phrase was one one of the founding SMC leaders used frequently indicating his belief that Jesus died to heal in every way the body, soul and spirit of man)




2            I am not drawn to you. I do not regard you as someone I have any feeling of pastoral care for. If you improve you attitude and performance in the following ways  ____________________

I may find I am interested in being involved in your spiritual walk at some time in the future. If you want to attend meetings at my church in the meantime, that is okay, but whether you do or not will make little difference to me.






The SMC leadership may regard this as a bit brutal. Our suggestion is that if you are going to make a distinction among those in your own congregations in your heart and mind, you effectively do this anyway. It already feels brutal to those who are not among the favoured. So perhaps the SMC leaders should show some courage and be more honest with their people.



On a more positive note for those not favoured by the leadership of SMC - those involved in producing these articles know about 200 pastors in churches in Central Scotland and beyond who would be very glad to have you in their congregations. They will teach you the bible and hold you to biblical standards of conduct and living. They will take an active interest in the spiritual growth and success of you and your families. If you have questions they will answer them honestly (generally pastors have received training to do this) and if they cannot, they will find those who can provide you with answers or help.


They will even, if necessary, forgive you and not give up on you when you fail  – but probably only up to the 70 times 7 times that Jesus suggested.